Figure Skating

Sofia Muraveva and Evgeni Semenenko edge ahead at Russian Junior Figure Skating Championships 

The national championships in Krasnoyarsk offer a glimpse at the level of competition amongst some of the best junior skaters in the world, exactly a year before the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics

By Sanjeev Palar ·

The Russian Junior Figure Skating Championships got underway at the Ice Arena in Krasnoyarsk on Wednesday (3rd February).

Sofia Muraveva and Evgeni Semenenko were the best performers on day one in the third-largest city in Siberia.

Muraveva leads the junior ladies field of eighteen skaters with a score of 72.97 points after the short program, just ahead of Sofya Akatyeva and Adeliya Petrosian.

Barely one point separated the top three skaters, meaning the battle for the title is certain to be a closely contested affair on Thursday.

Fourteen-year-old Muraveva will carry a slim 0.17 point lead going into the free skate. The teenager, who is coached by two-time Olympic champion Evgeni Plushenko, will be looking to improve on her ninth-place finish from last year’s nationals.

Akatyeva has been billed as famed coach Eteri Tutberidze’s latest star in the making, and finished her short program with 72.80 points. Earlier this season, she became the first Russian female skater to land a triple Axel and a quadruple jump, the toeloop, in one program.

If she can repeat that in the free skate on Thursday, her chances of improving on last year’s second-place finish certainly seem good.

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Third place Petrosian, who finished sixth in last year’s junior championships, is only 0.33 points behind the leader after scoring 72.64 points

The field closely bunched together with Sofia Samodelkina in fourth place. The thirteen-year-old has already included the triple Axel and quadruple jumps into her program.

Samodelkina and fifth place Elizaveta Berestovskaya are both coached by two-time Olympian and 1999 world junior silver medallist Sergei Davydov.

Both skaters are armed with quadruple jumps in their arsenal and, given they are less than two points off the lead, are certainly capable of clinching top honours in the free skate on Thursday.

Junior ladies short program top ten results:

Sofia MURAVEVA – 72.97

Sofya AKATYEVA – 72.80

Adeliya PETROSIAN – 72.64

Sofia SAMODELKINA – 71.37

Elizaveta BERESTOVSKAYA – 71.28

Anna FROLOVA – 68.10

Ksenia TSIBINOVA – 67.23

Elizaveta OSOKINA – 66.97

Maria PARAMONOVA – 64.14

Polina SVIRIDENKO – 63.44

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Earlier in the day, Evgeni Semenenko clinched the junior men's lead after the short program, with 87.13 points for his routine.

The 17-year-old, who finished sixth in the 2020 Rostelecom Cup last November, has a slim 1.75 point lead going into the free program.

Ilya Yablokov, who finished tenth in the 2020 World Junior Championships had an encouraging start to his campaign, with a score of 85.38 points to come in second, while Artyom Kovalev is third with 85.01 points.

Russia's Evgeny Semenenko performing his short program

Lausanne 2020 Youth Olympic Games bronze medallist Daniil Samsonov was favoured to do well in these Russian juniors and placed fourth after failing on his triple axel attempt. The fifteen-year-old had to step out of his triple axel and had a hand on the ice.

Apart from that mistake, the teenager under the tutelage of famed coach Eteri Tutberidze completed the rest of his routine error-free for a score of 83.40 points, almost four points off his junior world record in the short program of 87.33 points.

The competition concludes on Thursday, starting with the junior men's free skate in the morning and the ladies program in the afternoon.

Daniil Samsonov of Russia

Junior men's short program top ten results:

  1. Evgeny SEMENENKO - 87.13
  2. Ilya YABLOKOV - 85.38
  3. Artyom KOVALEV - 85.01
  4. Daniil SAMSONOV - 83.40
  5. Egor RUKHIN - 81.01
  6. Alexander GOLUBEV - 80.18
  7. Kirill SARNOVSKY - 78.68
  8. Nikolay UGOZHAEV - 76.27
  9. Andrey KUTOVOY - 75.83
  10. Maxim BELYAVSKY - 74.76

Given that the International Skating Union (ISU) opted to cancel the 2021 World Junior Figure Skating Championships initially scheduled for March this year due to the pandemic, this national event serves as a first glimpse at many of the top skaters coming through the junior ranks, exactly a year before the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games.

Eight of the twelve medallists from the previous Junior World Championships were from Russia, including three gold winners.